2010 Positional Strategy: Foolproof Guide To Drafting Fantasy Defense

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2010

There's more to drafting a team defense than looking for the best talent.
There's more to drafting a team defense than looking for the best talent.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Had my first experience the other day watching the television show Dog Whisperer. Realized fairly quickly that the show was less about rehabilitating dogs and more about addressing the idiosyncrasies of their owners.

I felt a little misdirected.

And I realized that many people misdirect their attentions when it comes to fantasy defenses on draft day. They over-complicate things and lose sight of what it takes to successfully draft a fantasy defense. Here is my personal strategy for the position.

First thing's first—let’s clear some things up. First, we all know that there are a handful of team defenses that seem to be solid year in and year out. They are the ones with easy-to-recognize players that always find ways to rally the troops to impressive performance after impressive performance.

Ed Reed of the Ravens is like that. So is Troy Polamalu of the Steelers. Darrelle Revis headlines a star-studded Jets defense (and yes, he’ll play this year. One of the sides will crumble).

The problem is that these name-brand players elevate their respective teams to near undraftable status in fantasy leagues.

And by undraftable, I’m suggesting they’ll be chosen before the next-to-last round of your respective drafts. Notice I didn’t suggest the last round … that is reserved for your fantasy kicker.

But how can one so confidently wait on a defense while squads such as the Jets, Packers, Ravens and Steelers are swiped off the board?

Because the key to success with a fantasy defensive unit is not necessarily the star players or lack thereof. Check out a slew of various fantasy football rankings for team defenses. You’ll be amazed at how much difference you’ll find from list to list.

Every year, I stick to my guns on fantasy defenses, waiting until the waning rounds to pick a solid value squad and reaping the benefits of a more quality bench at RB and WR.

So which defensive units am I targeting this year? There are several that will pay great dividends out of a late draft slot. They include:

San Francisco

The Niners showed great improvements last season defensively under defensive-minded head coach Mike Singletary.

They continued to tweak their defenses this offseason. Most importantly, they have a pretty easy schedule throughout most of the regular season, playing Seattle the opening weekend and having savory matchups against Kansas City in Week Three, Oakland Week Six, Denver Week Eight, Rams Week 10, Buccaneers Week 11, Arizona Week 12, Seattle Week 14, and a very juicy fantasy championship matchup against the Rams.

Problem is that the Niners could be taken before the next-to-last round in some drafts based on their performance last year.

San Diego

Here is the team defense that has me most excited this summer.

Sure the Chargers lost Cromartie to the Jets. They weren’t as impressive last year as one would like. Both factors will ensure that the Chargers fall to the next-to-last round in most fantasy drafts. But the Chargers still have plenty of playmakers and have, as far as I’m concerned, the best schedule possible this season for a fantasy defense.

They play the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs each twice. San Diego will also fare well against the Jaguars’ one-trick pony, a Seattle program in flux, a Cardinals offense piloted by Leinart, the Rams and their rookie QB, among others. There are only a handful of games during the regular season that could cause the Chargers fits on defense. 


 Another team a la the Niners that showed marked improvement last season on the defensive side was the Bengals. In fact, they were under-the-radar most of the season despite shutting down some high-powered offenses.

This year, they don’t have the cakewalk schedule that either the Niners or Chargers do, but the Bengals do have a few juicy matchups that make them worth a late-round flier when all of the name brand defensive units are off the board.

Check out the rest of this article, including more defenses to target.

Want some rankings that will help you clobber your draft-day competition? Check out my 2010 redraft rankings and individual player capsules for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.

Check back as I continue to post position-by-position strategies for draft day success. Completed so far: kickers.

For all your fantasy football needs, go to www.chinstrapninjas.com


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